Archive for April, 2011

Field Grows in Hartford Mayoral Race
April 29, 2011

In 2007, there were about six or seven candidates at this point in the race for mayor of Hartford, and right now for 2011 there are four, including Mayor Pedro Segarra.    This Sunday on Face the State, we talk with Edwin Vargas, a former teacher.

Vargas is no stranger to city politics.   He ran unsuccessfully last year against State Senator John Fonfara.    During our interview Vargas talked about why he wants to be mayor, why he believes the current mayor needs to be replaced, and the former mayor Eddie Perez.

Tune in this Sunday at 11 for Face the State.

We’ll also talk about all things legislative with three esteemed journalists:  Mark Pazniokas of the Connecticut Mirror, Rick Green of the Hartford Courant, and Brian Lockhart of the Stamford Advocate.   What a trio to make me look smart!

From Hartford to Hawaii
April 28, 2011

We’re back!   Kara and I have just returned from a Hawaii where were sent on assignment to try to procure a copy of President Obama’s birth certificate.   Just kidding.  One of Kara’s oldest friends was getting married there and we decided to turn the trip into a family vacation.    Weather in the 50th state is perfect…all the time.  The only tough thing about going to Hawaii is..well, going there!     Eleven hours in a plane and then a six hour time difference.    The kids were great, but my daughter’s DVD player sputtered out two hours into the flight!    

We checked out Volcanoes National Park where we saw plenty of old hardened lava, but no flowing lava, simply a glow coming from Mauna Loa after the sun went down.    During the day, you see plenty of steam..    While at the overlook there we met a family from Glastonbury.  I guess Eyewitness News really is everywhere.

Part of the park was closed due to potentially deadly gases coming from one of the volcanoes.   It is a little alarming to see these signs, but we were assured by the park ranger we would live to make the wedding.

We stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village at  Waikiki Beach in Honolulu (the hotel where much of Hawaii Five-O is filmed,) and later the Hilton Waikoloa Beach on the Big Island.  I highly recommend both, especially if you are traveling with children.   The Waikoloa recently survived the tsunami that devastated Japan and caused considerable damage in and around Kona, Hawaii.

It’s great to be back to our relatively cheap gas prices.  More on the trip. the wedding, and Kara’s great bunch of friends later.

Evasive Roldan Defends Perez, Blames Segarra, Rell and Lamont
April 15, 2011

A new name was thrust into the race for mayor of Hartford this week:  Kelvin Roldan.   The state representative was all over the television news talking about a report by the  Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender about allegations that Mayor Pedro Segarra failed to disclose financial information about his spouse.   That article is here:  http://articles.courant.com/2011-04-10/news/hc-lender-column-segarra-0410-20110410_1_rent-subsidies-rent-subsidy-payments-hartford-mayor-pedro-segarra

Roldan, a protege of disgraced former mayor Eddie Perez, is considering challenging Segarra for mayor.   Roldan’s close relationship with a convicted felon is raising eyebrows in the city and beyond, and many are concerned a Roldan mayoralty would be a redux of the Perez administration.  The Daily Ructions’ Kevin Rennie is already calling it the “Roldan-Perez restoration.” http://www.dailyructions.com/roldan-perez-restoration-campaign-squeezing-lobbyists-and-city-contractors/   

Roldan appeared on Face the State Sunday, and we talked about the allegations about Segarra, his relationship with Perez, and where his mentor went wrong.   As you’ll see on the link below, Roldan seemed to avoid some of the questions about Perez and his own campaign plans, but didn’t hold back on criticisms of Segarra, even former Governor Rell. 

    http://www.wfsb.com/local-video/index.html?grabnetworks_video_id=4649736

Remember the Rebates?
April 15, 2011

This year the talk is higher taxes, but it seems like only yesterday when the talk was rebates.  Yes, for those who are too young to remember the late 1990s, the state was doing so well, taxpayers got a check in the mail.

It was the brainchild of then comptroller Nancy Wyman, now the lieutenant governor.      The rebates were signed into law by then Governor John Rowland.

It was 1998, when the debate over the checks was raging on CT ’98, the one time name of Face the State.  

Wilson-Foley Talks Victory in the 5th
April 14, 2011

It’s been more than a decade since Connecticut has had an open congressional seat (1998 when Barbara Kennelly vacated her 1st district seat to run for governor) so it is no wonder the list of candidates with Washington aspirations is long and growing.     Congressman Chris Murphy is passing on a 5th district re-election battle to try for a senate upgrade, and at last count there were five candidates officially in the race to succeed him, but that number could double.  

This week on Face the State, we’ll talk with one of the candidates, Republican Lisa Wilson-Foley.   Wilson-Foley is the entrepreneur from Simsbury who became a familiar face to voters last year when she ran for lieutenant governor.  She ended up losing in the primary to Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, but the race was closer than many thought it would be, and this political novice impressed many people during her run.

Wilson-Foley’s loss to Boughton may be due in part to the fact she ran solo.    Mike Fedele had picked Boughton, but Tom Foley decided not to have a running mate, and let the voters decide.    The talk was Foley didn’t pick Wilson-Foley, whom he likes and has tremendous respect for, for one reason:  his ex-wife’s name is Lisa Foley.    Might have been somewhat awkward.   After the election, a republican operative told me he believed  Tom Foley might be governor now if he had picked Wilson-Foley, because for 16 years Republicans had either a female governor or lt. governor, and an all male ticket may have hurt the party. 

During our taping I asked Wilson-Foley why she thinks a Republican can win the seat, when they couldn’t last year in what was supposed to be a GOP year.   We also talked about health care,  taxes, and what she learned from her 2010 loss.

Wilson-Foley is also known as the spokesperson for her husband’s healthcare company, Apple Rehab.  She also owns Blue Fox Run golf course in Avon, and the Newport Blues Cafe and Inn in Newport, Rhode Island.   

We’ll be having the other candidates in the 5th on Face the State in the coming weeks.

Tune in this Sunday at 11AM for Face the State.

Race for Hartford Mayor Heating Up
April 8, 2011

For the first time since the 1990s, the name Eddie Perez will not be on the ballot in the race for mayor in Hartford.  On Face the State last month, Mayor Pedro Segarra talked about running for his first full term, and as expected challengers are coming forward.   This weekend on FTS, one of those challengers, Shawn Wooden was our guest.

Wooden, like Segarra,  is a West End Democrat, and both are attorneys.   Segarra had to shutter his practice when he became mayor, Wooden is with the downtown firm of Day Pitney.    He’s already raised $100,000 to take on Mayor Segarra.

During our taping, Wooden talked about how in the 1950s, his family came to Hartford from Georgia in the hopes of finding a better life.    He explained how he believes Hartford has declined since then, and what he plans to do about it if elected mayor.     By the way, Wooden is an alumnus of the Channel 3 Kids Camp.

I asked Wooden why voters should choose him over Mayor Segarra and he accused Segarra of not “having the leadership to make this city excel.”    Wooden called the city unsafe, and was critical of the mayor’s stance on crime and crime statistics.  I asked Wooden about the job performance of HPD Chief Daryl K. Roberts.

We also talked about the Hartford population and job  crisis:   more than 50,000 people have moved out since 1950.  Vacant lots that were once home to thriving buildings and homes remain undeveloped, and have been empty  for decades.   At least four major corporations moved to the suburbs during the final years of the Perez administration, taking thousands of jobs,and millions in tax revenue.    I asked Wooden about his plan to restore the tax base, and get people to move to Hartford. 

Speaking of Perez, I also asked Wooden if he agreed with city council president RJo Winch when she told WNPR’s Jeff Cohen,  ” I don’t believe to this day that it was proven that Perez took a bribe. “

Another question posed was about Carrie Saxon Perry, for whom Wooden worked when she was mayor.   Her tenure ended poorly in 1993 and left a bad taste in the mouths of many citizens. 

My observations after interviewing Segarra and Wooden, are that this mayoral election is going to very interesting, and both men are intelligent, and seem to be extremely knowledgeable about a breadth of issues and that serves the voters well.   There are two other candidates, Edwin Vargas and Stan McCauley who have not been on the program.   

What does not serve the voters well is the lack of diverse talk about how to improve the city.   At this time there are only Democrats running for mayor.    The Republican party has yet to put forth a candidate; ditto for the Working Families Party.   The Democrats have controlled the mayor’s office since 1971, and certainly a compelling argument could be made that one party rule has not been good for Hartford.    The last Republican elected was Ann Uccello, elected in 1967 and re-elected in ’69.    At 87, I’m not sure she is interested in a comeback.

Here is the interview with Shawn Wooden:  http://www.wfsb.com/local-video/index.html?grabnetworks_video_id=4637561

My Ronald Reagan Exclusive
April 7, 2011

Thirty years ago next month President Ronald Reagan visited Hartford, a trip to a state he won in 1980 and again in 1984.      For some reason, we can’t find the video in our archives, so I thought I’d share with you my own Reagan story, that was one of our most popular flashbacks of 2011.

This weekend, we broadcast   a brief  interview I had with Reagan way back when.  I’m hesitant to even call it an interview, because it was basically only four questions, but it was much more than most reporters got with him.  I asked him about the Democrats, Saddam Hussein (whose forces had just invaded Kuwait,) and what it felt like to be back home.

It took place on October 30, 1990, when Reagan visited his boyhood home in Dixon, Illinois.    I was working as a weekend anchor and reporter at WREX-TV, then the ABC station in Rockford, Illinois.

Reagan was a local legend in Dixon long before he became president thanks to his work as a lifeguard on the Rock River where he saved dozens of people.

Even though Reagan was a former president at the time of  this visit, he was still surrounded by secret service agents and Dixon police were handling crowd control and the media.   We were cordoned off in front of the house, and were told Reagan would talk with some old friends, but there would be no media availability.

That’s what they said, anyway, but my goal was to get a sound bite from the Great Communicator.    Reagan gave plenty of speeches, but didn’t grant too many interviews.  He was elected when I was in high school, and I remember those clips on the news of Sam Donaldson shouting out to Reagan over the years, “Mr. President,”  trying to get a comment.   I knew I had my work cut out for me.

After scanning the scene, my photographer and I decided to go around to the backyard of the house.  I figured after Reagan checked out his restored childhood bedroom he would want to see his childhood backyard.   I was right.   As some officials and secret service agents followed Reagan around the yard we walked with him and I introduced myself and asked him a few questions.   The nation’s 40th president was gracious and witty.   We were the only media to talk with Reagan and as you can imagine, my boss was thrilled.

 

Watch the flashback right here: 

http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7532544

For Sale: Eddie Perez Home at Center of Corruption Probe
April 6, 2011

The home in Hartford’s West End that was a key piece of evidence in the City Hall corruption scandal is on the market for $375,000.   The wife of former mayor Eddie Perez is selling the couple’s home, according to a listing on remax.com   http://www.remax.com/property/89336023-60380951/59-Bloomfield-Ave-Hartford-CT-06105/

City records show in July Maria Perez took sole ownership of the home from her husband, weeks after he was found guilty of corruption and resigned.  

The house on Bloomfield Avenue was scrutinized by prosecutors because of renovations done there by city contractor Carlos Costa.    Improvements were made to the kitchen and master bathroom.  Perez was accused of having the work done, and not paying for the rehab until investigators started poking around.

The house has an interesting political history.    The late Senator and Governor Abe Ribicoff also lived at 59 Bloomfield Avenue, in fact it was there that in 1954 he  learned he had been elected governor.

This is from the retired VP of News at WFSB, Dick Ahles who interviewed Ribicoff:

On election night in 1954, Governor Lodge took an early lead and by 9 o’clock, The Hartford Times had Lodge carrying the state by 5,000 votes.  Ribicoff and his family and key supporters like John Bailey were awaiting the results at 59. Ribicoff figured it was over but Bailey told him it was too early to concede.   Here’s Ribicoff:
 
“My cellar recreation room was filled with newspapermen, radiomen, television men and Rudy Frank, who was working for WELI of New Haven on the radio, came running up and said, ‘Don’t concede!  Don’t concede!’ They had been doing their own tally independently.  He said, ‘Our tally shows you winning, not losing.’  So we didn’t concede.  In the meantime, it was pouring, the governor’s mansion, the champagne, the orchestra was plaing, the champagne was being imbibed and the big celebration going on in 990 Prospect Avenue because they felt they had won.  What had really taken place was the Hartford Times, in adding up the results, left out the city of Bridgeport.  Bridgeport had given me a majority of 8000 votes but byleaving out Bridgeport, Lodge had won it by 5000 votes instead of my winning by 3000 votes. As soon as this became definite, everything changed.  The crowd started to pour into 59 Bloomfield Avenue.  The state police commissioner and the state troopers left 990 Prospect Avenueand came to 59 Bloomfield Avenue.  The people started pouring into the house and all the sadness gave way to joy.”

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